If you’re thinking of embarking on an Asian adventure in the near future, and love your history, we have the iconic landmark for you. Why look elsewhere than these seven beauties?
Taj Mahal, India
It may be the most iconic building in the world, and for good reason. The Taj Mahal is commonly known as “the Jewel of Muslim art in India”, its white marble architecture and intricate details making it one of the most stunning sites in Asia. The mausoleum is home to the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who commissioned for the Taj Mahal to be built in 1632.
Visit the rain-forests of Sumatra to immerse yourself in 2.5 million hectares of paradise. Three national parks can be explored and traversed here, where you’ll find nothing short of 10,000 different plant species alongside nearly 1,000 animals — including the Sumatran orangutan. Also boasting the highest volcano in Indonesia as well as a wealth of waterfalls, lakes, and caves, Sumatra is a haven for the adventurous traveler.
Mount Koya, Japan
It feels like a world away from the bustle of Japan’s vibrant cities. Mount Koya is a monastic complex hidden in the mountains of southwest Japan. Travel experts say it’s the place to go to “shake off the city chaos” as you’re able to stay here — the monks allow visitors and offer accommodation. As such, you’ll be able to experience the tranquility of life here in the quiet region.
Snow frequently blankets the calm land with towering cedar forests beckoning for you to stroll through. And, of course, you’ll get to witness first-hand the daily routine of monastic life, from the morning prayers all the way through to the evening’s lighting of incense in the cemetery.
The Great Wall of China
Once you see the Great Wall of China for yourself, you’ll realize that pictures cannot do it justice. Spanning over nearly 13,000 miles across the country’s northern region, every section of the wall is magnificent and awe-inspiring. You’ll feel transported back in time witnessing the ancient Chinese feat of engineering and will get a feel for the country’s history of kings and dynasties. Plus, walking the wall is perfect for a workout.
You’ve likely never heard of Ayutthaya, meaning that discovering it will give you a feeling of a personal paradise. Once known as the biggest city in the world, Ayutthaya was burnt to the ground during the Burmese invasion of 1767.
Thankfully, though, the ruins of the site still stand magnificent, statues adorned with golden cloth and temples still displaying their intricate details in their architecture. The lack of tourism here in Ayutthaya adds to the allure of the lost city, as you’ll be free to explore the empty relics pretty much all by yourself.
Hoi An, Vietnam
It was once a busy trading city, but now Hoi An has adapted its Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese culture into its very own. It’s one of the most unique places you’ll visit in the world — street food is rich and plentiful, a blend of its historical influences evident in dishes, such as noodles and dumplings.
The Hoai River is where you’ll be able to hire a colorful boat to sail upon. Elsewhere, marketplaces are vibrant with a multitude of sights, sounds, and smells, and Hoi An’s old town has an undeniably romantic air about it. For a quiet escape with your significant other, Hoi An is hard to beat.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
For some of the most spectacular temples in the world, you need to visit Angkor Wat. Being part of the world’s largest Hindu temple complex means that there’s an abundance to explore, all bearing intricate detailing in the architecture and a wealth of historical value alongside it.
The site was originally created for the Khmer empire, but has now become a Cambodian symbol that even appears on their national flag. When you consider that the many buildings are over 1,000 years old here at Angkor Wat, the setting becomes a whole lot more extraordinary.
Author’s note: This is a guest post.
I wanted so bad to stretch my legs, but the girl who was sitting in front of me prevented that from happening. My back, my arse, and my joints are aching. I shifted on the floor and extended my legs to the right under the seats, careful not to kick anyone in the process. The passengers who were lucky to have had seats didn’t complain. They were probably thinking that sacrificing a little bit of their leg room was nothing compared with what my friends and I were going through. You see, we were on our way back to Manila from Quirino, on a Greenstar bus and we were chance passengers. Chance passengers are those who didn’t buy tickets ahead of time, chance passengers are those who wait to be seated, chance passengers are those who will most definitely stand or sit on the aisle of a bus, and chance passenger is what we were for at least 8 hours.
Going to Quirino, we were able to reserve seats through Pinoytravel.com.ph. What I should have done is to also book our tickets on our way back; a mistake that resulted in over 8 hours of agony. We had no choice, either we go as chance passengers or we wouldn’t be able to go home.
Hard as it may be, the experience was not entirely ugly, in a sense that we were able to make light of our situation by making fun of ourselves. The bus played old comedy movies of Babalu. They were generally corny, at times funny, all in all cringe-worthy. There’s one, which title I’d forgotten that starred Sheryl Cruz, then wham bam I’m young again. I was fan of Romnick and Sheryl love team during their That’s Entertainment days. I even hated Beth Tamayo in a true fantard fashion when she and Romnick started dating. We sat through the movies as we had no choice in the matter
Silver was laughing at how corny the scenes are and I noticed that the other passengers were laughing along not because the movie was funny, but because they were listening to our side comments.
Sometimes, I managed to catch some zzzs with the help of my big backpack. Generally speaking, the experience was very uncomfortable. When passengers had to alight from the bus, they had to pass through us. People hopped on us, we had to squeeze ourselves to the side to make way for them, and when we go back inside the bus, we had to wait for the other passengers to hop on first, especially those whose seats are in the back of the bus.
When we drove by a zigzag road, things got ugly for me. I felt lightheaded and queasy that at one point, I had to get off the bus to puke. When I returned to the bus the conductor started calling me as, “yung sumuka,” (the one who puked). I honestly wanted to punch him for making fun of my situation, but of course, I chose to maintain my composure.
One of the passengers, an old man who was sitting on an aisle seat next to where I was sitting pulled out his bag from the overhead compartment. He then started fishing something off his bag; it turns out he was trying to get Bonanime, a medicine that fights motion sickness to give to me, but I beat him to it. By the time he got the medicine, I was already chewing one. He also offered his seat, but I didn’t want to impose knowing that there’s still 5 hours ahead of us, so I politely declined. Nevertheless, I felt grateful to the man for caring.
The meds wouldn’t take effect until an hour so I had to endure a little bit more. I grabbed a bag of chips to eat and distract myself; when that didn’t work I tried my best to sleep it off. Somewhere in Nueva Vizcaya, some people started getting off the bus that we were finally able to have our own seats. After 8 hours of suffering on the floor, we call it a blessing. It’s okay to experience some things once, this is one of them. But never will I want to be a chance passenger again.
I don’t do slow traveling; not that I don’t want to, it’s just that my current situation doesn’t allow such a luxury. I have a regular nine-to-five job, which means I cannot go whenever I please and I have to seek approval from the powers that be before I go on a holiday. The duration of my absence is also based on leave credits and in our company, you have to collect it; meaning we earn a total of 1.5 leave credits by the end of the month. I used to carry the wrong notion that if I go out of town or to another country and I don’t subject myself to the rigors of going to one tourist spot to another for photo ops (a.k.a. evidence that I’d been to those spots), the way most tourists do, then I am doing slow traveling. Wrong. Slow traveling, I have come to realize is much more complex than I thought, one that definitely takes time, which as I mentioned I don’t have in abundance. (more…)
When I was young I used to be envious of a lot of things; tall women, attractive women, women with
Kindly introduce yourself
Hi, I’m Christine. Sarcasm is my main language and I’m a go-getter. I love travelling, books, movies, I can make mean coffee and I’m the person behind The Backpacking Executive.
When did your love affair with traveling start?
Good question. I grew up in a coastal town in Quezon. We have the ocean, mountain, forest, fields and river as our playground. My hobbies as a kid involved climbing up trees to watch the clouds, collecting sea shells at the beach and exploring forest for the best (and stolen) fruits in town. I loved to explore and adventures ever since. I loved it so much that most of my childhood memories are the times that my family and I traveled or when my childhood friends and I were exploring our little town. I remember when I was 5 and my parents got us our first dog from an island we visited. I threw the dog from the boat on the way home because I believed the dog could swim faster than our boat and I could see she was bored. Don’t worry she lived and loved us until her last breath. But yeah, most of those best memories I had was when I was exploring.
You have a job that allows you to travel. It’s amazing, but what are the challenges that come along with it?
A lot haha. People think that having a remote job is so awesome and a dream job. But it isn’t. Every job has challenges even if you have the best job in the world. To be more specific, if you’re like me who is very hands on person, then the fact that you can’t see your staff and what they’re doing drive me crazy. Communication is harder when you don’t see the person face to face. There’s also an issue of boredom. I am extremely introvert and extremely extrovert. When I was still working in an office, I use my free time to chat with my colleagues about work and life in general. So other times, the working from my room works for me but there are times that I miss human connection and the pulsing energy of another human being driven by stress.
How does working remotely can be compared with working in the office?
The thing about working remotely is you can manage your time better. If you have to commute one hour to get to the office – one way – then you are basically wasting 2 hours of your life daily. 2 hours that you can use for sleeping, spending time with your family or additional hours to explore a new place. Although it’s without challenges, I can say that I prefer my setup right now compare to before.
Do you think everyone should consider working remotely?
Yes. But only if your heart is set on it and if you’re working a job that you really like or passionate about. What I mean with this is I have seen people giving up the jobs they are passionate about for English teaching or web designing. First off, I’m not looking down on these jobs. What I’m trying to say is people ride on online teaching bandwagon because they think they will be able to travel if they pursue a remote job. Totally forgetting a career they went to school for, a career they worked hard for and most especially a career they are really passionate about. I’m not saying you shouldn’t but will you give up something you love and pursue a job that you don’t even like just to say the end justifies the means? Yes, you can travel and that will probably make you happy but what about during those times that you’re working a job that you hate? So my advice, either create a remote job out of your career or something you’re passionate about and do what you think will make you happy more.
“Don’t ride a bandwagon just because. Instead create your own path and make sure you’re happy while doing that.”
What do you love about traveling alone?
The freedom and flexibility. I can hit 5 countries in one day or wake up in different countries every day and no one will complain. I also get to know my strength and weaknesses because only when you’re alone you can actually know your potential. And where you can fully know yourself.
You’ve traveled to so many places, but which one is your favorite so far and why?
Croatia because they got it all for you! Seriously, it is one of the most amazing countries I’ve been. They have scenic lakes straight from Narnia, glorious mountains, awesome beaches, amazing architecture and quaint little towns literally straight from Game of Thrones. And the people, I can say, are the warmest and most helpful Europeans I have ever met and it’s cheap! Like cheaper than the Philippines in some ways.
Where do you usually stay when you travel?
I always combine comfort and practicality. I stay between small hotels, guest houses and high rated hostels. Normally I would stay in hostels during weekend to meet people and to party. And during weekdays, I’m staying in private rooms in a hotel or guest house to make sure I can work peacefully during the evenings.
What is your non-negotiable term when traveling?
Three things for me:
- I love trying things at least once but no drugs.
- And respect the local customs. Whether you’re from free speech slash democratic country whatsoever, respect the local customs.
- Don’t litter.
What are your travel must-haves?
I bring my own bathroom with me. Lol. I also have my own manicure set when I travel. And one or 2 perfumes. It’s important for me to remain clean and to smell good.
Have you had any bad experiences while traveling?
Hah! Are you sure you guys wanna know? Lol. Okay I’ll just probably highlight some of the worst things. I got arrested in Macau and got detained in police station for 4 hours. I experienced the whole she-bang of police arresting; you on the street while they read your rights, asking you to face the wall and raise your hands while you are surrounded by over 20 policemen with their guns aiming at you. A scene straight from the movie ha! Also my ferry had to drop me 10 minutes ride away from my destination due to bad weather and I ended up in the middle of an island in the mouth of volcano in Sumatra, crying in the dark at 11pm because dogs were on my way trying to threaten me to slash my neck if I ever moved from my position, which is by the way was on the edge of the cliff (which I found out the next morning). That was the first time I asked myself what I was doing with my life. I could have been sleeping peacefully in my bed ya know? But I was in some ass place, in the middle of the night alone, with dogs trying to shred the last piece of my dignity.
Is there any country, which you consider to be your least favorite? Why?
Malaysia, but to be specific, Kuala Lumpur. I’ve been to the city like 6-7 times and it doesn’t grow on me. I also consider it unsafe if you will compare it to Manila. I got chased by thieves early in the morning until a nice taxi driver scared them away. I was lectured by an old Malaysian for not speaking in Bahasa when I asked him for direction. And the taxi drivers? The taxi drivers in Manila are saints compare to KL. This is not to diss Malaysia and I don’t discourage people to go there but these are what I have experienced personally and the reasons why it’s not my favorite.
What can you say about dating while traveling?
Have fun but open your eyes and don’t be consumed by the travel bubble. This is my advice and I know this is a bit harsh but it’s okay to be wild and adventurous but not stupid, okay?
What is the biggest learning that you’ve had because of traveling?
Myself. I got to know myself and I’m still learning. Also, no matter what the color of your skin is, no matter what kind of religion you follow or whatever your sexuality is – everyone speaks the same language when it comes to love, friendship and respect.
Tell us something about your blog
The blog’s idea was conceived while I was still living in Belize and my neighbors were having their usual catfight (yep classy ha) so I packed my laptop and went to one of the most decent hotels in the city to hang out in the pool. The business plan and ultimate goal were realized in a train in Manhattan. I tried to get people to do it but I ended up doing it myself and so after a year, I decided to launch it. Actually, the design wasn’t entirely ready but I just said, who cares? My ultimate goal is to have a one stop place for people who wants to travel. You want visa guides? Destination guides, accommodation, travel tips and crazy stories? We have it.
Where do you get your inspiration for your articles?
People around me. Analytics, marketing, and behavioral studies are my forte. I use those skills to study the people around me and from there I get my inspiration to write.
Any travel tips that you can impart to our readers especially to women who want to travel alone?
There are lots of travel tips that you can get from blogs but what I can personally advise you is be unapologetic. Don’t be sorry you’re dining out alone. Don’t be sorry you splurge on that expensive skydiving course. Don’t be sorry you ate an entire buffet station. More than your waist can handle. And don’t be sorry you kissed that hot stranger. Do things you have always wanted to do. And don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.
I was so sleepy I almost slept in the car. I reached Intramuros in no time and thought about how this place is a huge part of my life, having spent my whole college years within this walled city. I’m returning to attend a wedding of an acquaintance, a fellow blogger whom I have encountered in some blogger events. Given the fact we’re not really close, the invite came as a surprise to me. I thought maybe she was being courteous since she met us (I including the other bloggers who were also invited) in some events. But then again, we did talk a few times, even shared stories with one another, so maybe that accounts for something. I don’t know, I certainly don’t want to question her reason for inviting me, in fact I am flattered. So maybe she thought I am a more of an acquaintance. I do know a little bit of her story with the man she’s marrying, they’ve been together for a long time. There was even a time when I asked her if they already have plans to get married, she said none at the moment, but she is willing. (more…)